Salmonella (Salmonellosis) Foodborne Illness

What is Salmonellosis foodborne illness?

Salmonellosis (sal-muh-nel-LO-sis) is a well recognized type of “food poisoning” or “foodborne disease”, caused by Salmonella (sal-muh-NEL-uh) bacteria.

What are the symptoms?

This infection can cause diarrhea, headache, nausea, stomach cramps, fever and sometimes vomiting. Symptoms often begin 12 to 36 hours after swallowing the bacteria. The illness often lasts between four to seven days. In a small number of cases, the blood can become infected, causing severe illness. Some infected people may become carriers of the bacteria passing it in their feces for more than a year, even after the symptoms are gone.

How do I know if I have this illness?

If you have the above symptoms, you should see your family doctor, who can arrange to have your stool sample tested. If you think food may have made you sick, call your local Government Service Centre.

How does it spread?

The bacteria can be found in poultry, cattle, pigs, rodents, pets, and birds. People can get sick by consuming food or water that may have come into contact with:

  • Animal feces.
  • Undercooked meat, poultry and eggs.
  • Raw (non-pasteurized) dairy products.
  • Foods that have come into contact with dirty surfaces (unwashed cutting boards).
  • Unwashed fruits and vegetables, eaten raw.
  • Pets and farm animals (particularly baby chicks or reptiles), or changing the diapers of infants infected with the bacteria, without proper handwashing.

How is it treated?

Most people who become sick from Salmonella will get better on their own. People with diarrhea and vomiting must drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Antibiotics are only used to treat this illness when the person infected with the bacteria is already in a weakened state.

How can I keep from getting this illness?

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before handling foods and eating.
  • Wash your hands after handling raw meat, poultry, eggs and pets or changing diapers and using the toilet.
  • Handle raw meats carefully;
    • Store raw meats below ready-to-eat foods.
    • Wash cutting boards and counters right away after they touch raw poultry, meat, and eggs.
    • Avoid eating raw or undercooked poultry and meats. (For information about cooking temperatures, see PDF Salmonellosis Fact Sheet)
  • Avoid raw (non-pasteurized) milk and dairy products.
  • Avoid raw or undercooked eggs.
  • Chill foods promptly to 4°C (40°F) or less, to prevent the growth of bacteria. (For information about refrigeration temperatures, see PDF Salmonellosis Fact Sheet)

How soon can I return to work after being sick?

Usually, you can return to work as soon as you feel well, but certain jobs are more likely to allow the spread of bacteria from workers to clients. For this reason, food handlers, health care workers, and child care providers must stay off work until they are cleared by the Medical Officer of Health.

How can I avoid foodborne illnesses?

Most foodborne illness can be avoided by following these simple food safety tips:


Wash your hands frequently with soap and water:

  • Before handling food or eating.
  • After handling raw meats, using the toilet, touching pets/animals and changing diapers.

Wash counters, utensils, cutting boards, and other surfaces after they come into contact with raw meat. Don’t forget to sanitize!


  • Cook all meats, poultry, and eggs to a proper internal temperature, as listed in the table.
  • Keep all hot foods at 60°C (140°F) or more, to prevent the growth of bacteria.
  • Use a kitchen thermometer to check cooking and storage temperatures.


  • Chill all leftovers promptly to keep them out of room temperature.
  • Refrigerate all perishable foods at 4°C (40°F) or less, to prevent the growth of bacteria.
  • Thaw frozen foods in a refrigerator, cold water, or a microwave oven, not at room temperature.


  • Use separate cutting boards for raw meats, and raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Store raw meats below ready to eat foods in the refrigerator to prevent meat juices from contaminating food we may directly consume.

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Last updated: 2019-08-06